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Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a good Christmas and New Year and I want to wish everyone all the very best for 2019. For those of you whose Christmas was less than joyous, I send loving thoughts and big supportive hugs.

We had a happy peaceful Christmas day with Mum and Dad. We transported our turkey and all the trimmings up to theirs (including my trusty potato peeler because, unlike Mum, I can’t use a knife as I end up leaving half the spud on it!). Briggy (Mr B) was head chef and I was chief veg-preparer among other things. The dinner, I’m pleased to say, was a triumph.

As you can see, Rudolph had another airing.

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Boxing day was just as happy with lots of fun, laughter and games (not to mention food and drink) at super-host sister Sandra’s house. Our dear little great-nephew Henry is crawling now so was enthralled by all things sparkly and bright.

Ali, lovely wife of our equally lovely nephew Andy, also cleverly created some of her fabulous festive cupcakes.

We spent New Year’s Eve with good friends and popped a few corks at midnight while watching the brilliant London firework display. A great night for sure.

I haven’t made any resolutions for 2019, I’ll be more than happy with good physical and mental health and happiness for myself and Briggy and all our family and friends. Throw in to the world mammoth helpings of peace and kindness and this year should hopefully be a good’un. Oh, and prosperity aplenty would be welcome too – thank you.

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Before I go, I just wanted to reflect on two books I read pre-Christmas that I’d earlier mentioned, which were Kathryn Freeman’s Oh Crumbs  and Jessie Cahalin’s debut You Can’t Go It Alone . Both were a joy to read.

Oh Crumbs features main characters Abby and Doug who couldn’t be more different if they tried. Abby’s been caring for her sisters ever since her mother died and has sacrificed many things including attending university.  She starts work as a PA in a biscuit factory to managing director Doug. She is the bubbly and breezy to his seriousness (a lot of which stems from family tensions) and I loved hurdling all the bumps and emotional obstacles they encountered as their relationship developed. I’m a huge fan of Kathryn’s writing and this story is another belter.

You Can’t Go It Alone contains a cleverly created blend of storylines that drew me in, along with the wonderful cast of characters. A myriad of personal dramas are covered, some serious, some poignant, and the setting and community spirit of Delfryn is so well portrayed that I could picture it all in my mind. The author’s passion shone through for me and I look forward to reading more of her work.

May 2019 shine and sparkle for us all.

Much love Jan X

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Cheers!

 

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Summer Round-up

Well, what a glorious summer we’ve had, eh? My flip-flops waved the white flag when it hit 34 degrees. And now in mid-September, between the storms, the sun’s still occasionally flirting with us.

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Help, Help …!

 

Weather aside, since my last post in the spring it has felt like the ultimate seesaw ride.

We all celebrated Dad’s 80th birthday at the end of April. He wasn’t feeling 100% but did manage to enjoy a slice of cake.

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Soon after this, Dad fell very ill and had to spend some time in hospital having a barrage of tests, scans, you name it, the conclusion being that he will need some medical TLC. Fast forward five months and we’re hopefully about to learn when that will actually be. While Dad has had periods of feeling brighter, and will, in time we’re sure, be fighting fit again, it has really brought home to the whole family how much we love and value both him and Mum and how protective of them we all are.

Amidst the fog of concern, June, July and August did also provide a generous dose of family and friends fun and laughter, including our nephew Andy’s 30th birthday drinks, a sunny day trip to Brighton (remind me to never drink double gin and tonics again!) and cheering on an inspired England in the World Cup (“we love you, Southgate, we do …“)

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World Cup 2018: Well if you’re gonna fly a flag, it may as well be a massive one!

Briggy and I also ventured to Bournemouth and Poole for a couple of days which did us both the world of good. Sunshine all the way, a sightseeing bus tour plus boat trip, plenty of good food and drinks, a mooch round the harbour and potteries and a lovely B&B in which to rest our weary bones at the end of each day. Bliss!

 

I’m a huge fan of walking and find it really helps with the dreaded anxiety and flat days. I’ve been on quite a few of the guided London tours via Walks.com . No pre-booking, you just turn up at the specified meeting place (always by a tube station exit), hook up with your knowledgeable, friendly guide and away you go. This summer, I did the Little Venice tour and the Swanky Old Mayfair tour, both of which were thoroughly enjoyable.

 

This summer also saw my publisher Choc Lit  celebrate 9 years in business. Proud to be part of such a friendly, supportive, professional (and in my case, patient!) team.

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In August came a short visit to see our Uncle in Grantham (or thereabouts) whose house overlooks a huge field where we did some hare-spotting. I never realised they were THAT big or had such massive ears! We were also treated to this spectacular sunset. UFO-like or what?

UFO SUNSET

More recently, my best friend Clare and I stayed overnight in London near Westminster after a day spent being hurled around in our seats (me shrieking and laughing all the way!) courtesy of ThamesJet.com . Donning our waterproofs and life-jackets, a 50-minute ride saw us take in the sights up close and personal, cameras clicking, until we cleared Tower Bridge whereby we zoomed off, twisting and turning, arms raised in excitement (in Clare’s case) me white-knuckled and gripping the hand rail, daring myself to open my eyes. That said, although I was WAY out of my comfort zone doing this, I’m so glad I did as it was well worth it.  Our reward afterwards for being so brave was a nice stroll along the South Bank and a hunk of yummy carrot cake.  It was great to spend some quality time with Clare. She’s a gem. Much scoffing and quaffing and hilarious reminiscing.

A few pics …

 

The bundle of absolute joy that is our great-nephew Henry has us not quite believing that he is already six months old. He’ll be walking and talking before we know it.

Too cute!

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A summer awash with blooms I’m glad to report.

 

Not much writing done, sadly, but it’ll come, I know it will. I’m viewing every paragraph written as a few words nearer to submission day.

Books I’ve read include the following:

Take Me I’m Yours (A Wisconsin Love Story) by Lizzie Lamb ~ As ever with Lizzie’s novels, her wonderful words transport me to a magically vivid setting, in this case, the much-coveted Macfarlane’s Landing in Wisconsin, where I meet a gorgeous go-getting, gutsy heroine – one India Jane Buchanan – and a hero who makes the heart pound … Well hello, Logan Macfarlane …  Fast-paced, sizzling chemistry, family feuds and past dramas and secrets that contrive to keep India and Logan apart, with a top cast of supporting characters who all want their say. You won’t be disappointed.

Practical Mindfulness – a  step-by-step guide by Consultant Ken. A. Verni, Psy. D. ~ An easy to follow book (with illustrations) for anyone looking to embrace a more mindful approach to life. Offers a wealth of supportive, encouraging tips, examples and exercises to help with anxiety and depression. Well set out, interesting and informative. A guide you can return to as and when the need arises. Very calming.

 

I have two books I’m planning on reading next, one being Kathryn Freeman’s Oh Crumbs , the other Jessie Cahalin’s debut You Can’t Go It Alone . Both novels have some cracking reviews so I’m looking forward immensely to reading both and reporting back.

 

Until next time,

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Love Jan  X